Learn how you can make your images more playful and engaging.

What is a Playful Lens?

Playful Lens shots are all about just that – Play. “To engage in an activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose”. So it’s all about capturing images of people or animals at play. It’s energetic, fun, entertaining and amusing. It can be free and uninhibited, imaginative, improvised and inspired. It’s how kids learn, how we should too.

Why create with a Playful lens?

Life has been too serious for far too long, due to the pandemic. It’s time to focus on fun and learn to play again, just like kids. Let’s capture playful moments and memories. Just for fun.

Playful Surfer – Slower Shutter Speed

I submitted this image into this BootCamp Challenge because surfing is all about play. Yes it’s a challenging sport but the reason most surfers paddle out is all about the feeling of sliding down a wave – that playful, exhilarating feeling. For this image I wanted to capture the movement the surfer made while surfing in a local surfing contest and that is why I broke my own shutter speed rule. I chose 1/80sec shutter speed on a 600mm lens which is way slower than I would normally shoot action with, especially on such a long lens (I teach my students to use 2x the focal length, so that means shooting at 1/1250sec shutter speed with a 600mm lens). I think the result is perfect – there is blurring (movement) in his brightly coloured board and lots of movement in the water spray but his face is tack-sharp. What do you think? Brent

Tips for capturing Play

  • Think of this as a chance to experiment with your photography, just for fun.
  • Incorporate play into your creative process, grow as a photographer and as a creative. You may find your photography a lot more enjoyable in the process.
  • Add some personality and life into your photography.
  • Look for people (and animals) in your area that know HOW to Play. Hang with them for a while and watch and learn how they play. Try skateparks, surfers at the beach.
  • What activities do you find playful or fun to do?
  • Observe activities or events through a playful lens, capture the excitement and fun.
  • Stay clear of boring, staged and low energy shots, keep things free and easy, high energy, but most of all fun.

How can you make your images more artistic?

Try different apertures, different shutter speeds. Experiment and play. Use different lenses to capture different effects. Try a variety of different activities, from skateboarding to surfers, live music and events. Theme parks and the circus. Watch kids or animals at play. What about parties or family events? Entertainers and buskers. There are endless resources for play.

This month, really slow down (or should that be sped up) have fun, play, experiment and really enjoy the process.

Photo BootCamp Magazine

Let’s take a look at what our BootCamp members have captured playful moments for fun on this month’s challenge.

And be sure to check out how you can join BootCamp at the end of the magazine!

Below is a small sample of what’s in this magazine…
Creating Triptych

Join The Fastest, ‘Funnest’ Way To Improve Your Photography!

Photo BootCamp Academy is an online community where busy photographers gather to take their photography to new levels of enjoyment and progress.

  • Discover exciting new skills
  • Rekindle your passion for taking photos
  • Improve fast with helpful feedback
  • Experience enjoyment and progress

Inside BootCamp Magazine

Featured Artist

Let’s take a look at this month’s magazine. Here is our featured artist of the month, Juan Acosta, from the United States

The way she was eating the ice cream Juan thought it was very playful. Very intense look while the ice cream was running down her hands.

Comment: Peter Brody“Juan, welcome back!! I like this version, as the focus is on the little girl thoroughly enjoying her ice cream before it melts. Blurring the background puts all the focus on her.”

Cover Image

This month’s featured magazine cover image is by Greg Skehan from Singapore.

He really liked the absolutely beaming smiles on these 2 young boys as they are nearing the end of a hectic downhill ride on a very simple homemade “go-cart”. This is quite typical of the basic equipment used by children in developing countries, but it does not stop them from being innovative and having loads of fun.

Comment: Laura Griffiths” Greg, a great image of fun-filled times. You have captured these little guys superbly.”

Active Members

Let’s take a look at some of the awesome playful moments BootCamp members‘ captured this month.

We’ll start with Maureen Choby from the United States. Haven’t been able to get out much. They had lots of ice and snow. She took this last summer. Her oldest grandson is age 5. He loves Jumping in the pool. She did tone down the highlights.

Comment: Jenine Tracey“Great shot Maureen. It looks as though your grandson is having a great time in the water.”
Next, we have Brenda Potts from the United States. She is usually late to the party (heading to Arizona next week so will get some play shots then), but for now, here’s a photo she took last year of her granddaughter at the playground… yes, she’s as mischievous as she looks! 🙂 She’s mostly happy with it, aside from the shadow below her hand.
Comment: Juan Acosta“Beautiful capture Brenda. I can go either way with the shadow since these fun captures are not staged to get rid of all of the possible defects. If you want to capture with no defects you will miss the moment. Great job!”
Dave Koh from Singapore is next. He got this shot from the archive with the model having fun with the bubbles. Many shots were taken and this one appears presentable as most of the other shots were either having the bubbles across the face or hair or not the right expression.
Comment: Jenine Tracey“Yes Dave, the model does look like she is having fun with the bubbles. I love the colours that you have captured in the bubbles; they look like Christmas baubles and they really do add another dimension to the image. Great shot.”
And we have Romy Villanueva from the Philippines. He’s been away for some time and he is happy to be back for his 4th year with this amazing group. Romy hoped to be more active this time. For this challenge, he is posting a photo from the archive. This was taken in the Trick Eye Museum in Singapore when he took the family for a short holiday a few years ago before the pandemic. The museum features paintings and decorations that visitors can use for fun photos. This is a photo of a section featuring a painting of a maiden holding a silver platter with the head of a man. The table features a hole through which a person can insert his/her head. In this photo, his son and daughter were reaching in from a window to get hold of the head of his daughter-in-law. A little macabre scene but it’s fun taking it. Romy took some time deciding whether to post the photo in B/W or in color. Finally decided to post the B/W version.
Comment: Peter Brody“Romy, very interesting museum! The kids look like they are having a great time. The black and white works well here. Welcome back!!”
Next is Nick Elis from Australia. He can’t see himself getting much of a chance to play photographer this month. So delving into the back catalog. The boys and mum at a water slide, Dec 2013. Denoised a bit and lightened a bit and a slight copping.
Comment: Greg Skehan“A great action shot Nick. You really have caught the group at a perfect stage of the splash and the excellent composition really adds to the overall effect. No words are needed to explain the photo. I imagine that each of the people involved smiles a great deal as they recall the moment.”
And then we have Richard Hutson from the United States. He doesn’t know when he will have another playful opportunity for his lens, so he is submitting this image which he captured at their Potrero Hill Neighborhood Festival last October. The festival draws out the most colorful crazies from the neighborhood as well as the mayor, musicians, and other celebrities. Everyone is vying for attention so it’s a photographer’s playground. Richard got this image while the sweetheart clown played on. Shot with his Sony a7Riv and his nifty fifty.
Comment: Ami Kim“YES. The lines and her expression are magnified with the crop. For me, this crop really captures the energy and fun of the moment, perhaps even more than the original. Love it!”


  • Look for people (and animals) in your area that know HOW to Play. Hang with them for a while and watch and learn how they play. Try skate parks, or surfers at the beach
  • What activities do you find playful or fun to do?
  • Observe activities or events through a playful lens, capture the excitement and fun
  • Stay clear of boring, staged and low energy shots, keep things free and easy, high energy, but most of all fun
  • Try different apertures and shutter speeds. Experiment and play. Try different lenses
  • Check out circus, theme parks, entertainers and buskers, so many choices to capture play

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Do This Now

Please leave me a comment below – I’d love to know what you think. Brent

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